The Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule (GIR), which was finalized by USEPA in 2016, is a significant reorganization of the regulations applicable to hazardous waste generators. 81 Fed. Reg. 85732 (Nov. 28, 2016). With the GIR, USEPA moved all of the RCRA generator provisions into one section – 40 C.F.R. Part 262. The GIR also included several substantive changes to the hazardous waste generator rules which were more stringent than current RCRA generator regulations and, therefore, must be adopted by states with authorized RCRA programs.
The “more stringent than” changes in the GIR included new notification requirements for closure of facilities operated by large quantity generators (LQGs) and a periodic notification requirement for small quantity generators (SQGs.). The GIR also imposes new marking and labeling requirements for LQGs, SQGs and transporters, and LQGs must have a “quick reference guide” with information regarding emergency preparedness and prevention. The GIR “codifies” long-standing USEPA interpretations regarding hazardous waste determinations and the enforcement consequences of non-compliance with regulatory requirements that are considered to be “conditions for exemption.”
The GIR replaces the “conditionally exempt small quantity generator” category with a “very small quantity generator” (VSQG) category, and includes new “less stringent than” provisions that have the potential to reduce the costs and work associated with management of wastes generated by a VSQG. Under the GIR, VSQGs that generate 100 kilograms or less of hazardous waste per month can ship this hazardous waste to a LQG under the control of the same company as the VSQG. This “consolidation” provision increases the options available to companies with multiple facilities for management of hazardous waste. The GIR also allows VSQGs and SQGs to maintain their existing regulatory classification when they generate additional amounts of hazardous waste as the result of a “planned” or “unplanned” event. The “episodic generation” rule will allow companies to schedule maintenance, cleaning and other operational requirements and avoid the requirements applicable to a higher generator classification. Because the “consolidation” and “episodic generation” rules are less stringent than existing regulations, authorized states have discretion as to whether they adopt these rules.
Several industry groups filed challenges to the GIR in 2017 and discussions with USEPA are ongoing. The GIR has not been stayed in the pending litigation, and authorized states, such as Illinois and Missouri, are supposed to adopt the “more stringent than” provisions of the GIR by July 1, 2018 (or July 1, 2019, if a statutory change is required). The Illinois Pollution Control Board opened a rulemaking docket for adoption of the GIR in 2017, and anticipated issuing proposed amendments for public comment in February 2018, but did not meet this deadline. It is HeplerBroom’s understanding that the Illinois Pollution Control Board expects to issue the proposed GIR amendments in April 2018. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources plans to propose amendments related to the GIR by the summer of 2018 and adopt final amendments by December 2018.